Murghir Jhol

Murgir Jhol – Bengali chicken curry

I am still on the movie subject. People go to a masala movie and complain that it’s just masala. People go to a movie with a solid script and fret that it is slow. They go to a movie like 2.0 and tut-tut that it’s too absurd (the very same ones who rave about the transformer series). They’re disappointed that gangster movie A does not have all the elements of gangster movie B, different story notwithstanding. All of them will claim that they thoroughly enjoyed “Inception”. I am surprised that people do not employ simple everyday logic in movie criticism. A movie is what it is. Take it as it is. Do not ask for Nasi Goreng in Saravana Bhavan. Don’t complain that the sushi place has very few vegetarian options. They are what they are. A masala movie cannot be an art movie, an animation movie and a “Hey Ram”. Comparing movies and expecting one to be the same as the other is dumb. If it’s the same, it’s a copy. Every gangster movie need not be like “Godfather”. Let me say it. I wasn’t as taken by “Godfather” as the rest of the world. Just my opinion. See I am not comparing “Godfather” to “Billa” or “Basha”. That Hollywood movies are by default the better, superior versions – I refuse to accept. Nitpicking little details in the movie and taking offence is absolutely ridiculous. I cannot imagine what people would do in a Karan Johar movie? I suppose they’d do the reverse of what they do in a regular movie – sit in for the songs and go out to smoke the rest of the movie. Enough about movies. Let’s move on to food. I am drawn to Bengali food the way I’ve been drawn to Kerala food. I’ve never eaten Bengali food before. I just know I’ll like it. I stocked up my pantry with Nigella seeds and mustard oil. I’ve been reading about Aloo Posto, Murgir Jhol, Chana bhapa.. I am smitten. I started with Murgir Jhol. It seemed like just the kind of thing to make for a Sunday lunch. I was weary of Sunday biryanis.  Also my last couple of experimental biryanis did not turn out too well. I was wincing from that memory and I wanted to take some time out from biryani until we could both reconcile. As much as a Sunday...
Methi biryani

Methi Biryani

Every restaurant, juice shop, or roadside frankie stall I go to, there’s already a couple of Swiggy and Zomato guys ahead of me. I see them at every traffic light. On the road, there’s always one of them behind me who is trying to overtake me from the wrong side. When I step out on the balcony I see one of them zip past my house. What are the odds? But the one I am waiting for always goes to my neighbour’s house instead. I then provide all my id proof details to persuade him that I am the rightful owner of that biryani. We’re not cooking as a people, I conclude. What’s happening?! I find that disturbing. This is one of those small, innocuous little changes that just happen and seem perfectly reasonable but are actually harbingers of a much bigger shift. It can’t seem right that we’re cooking less and less at home. We may well forget how to cook. There’s nothing more tragic. Cooking is a life skill. Jagan believes checking the car’s coolant, changing a punctured tyre and cleaning the AC filter are important life skills too. We agree to disagree. Cooking is zen. Cooking is power. Cooking is freedom.   I know I can make biryani if I was tempted by all the Bhai biryani but I had no muslim friends to give me Biryani. I know I can make Thai green curry if I really wanted it. I need not eat Pongal if everyone else in the family loves it but I hate it. I can make myself a sandwich instead. Note that this is not applicable if you’re in a joint family. You’re screwed. I am eating healthier. I am eating fresher. I am also avoiding all that plastic packaging that comes with home-delivered food. Cooking is work. It has taught me patience and compassion. I am more understanding now when my mother’s vadai is not as fluffy one day, when the hotel’s tiffen sambar is less stunning today than last time, when my own biryani is ear-shattering hot this time. There’s nothing more fulfilling, more soul-satisfying than a sitting down to a favourite home-cooked meal. Yes, it’s a little work but so worth it. I know what you’re thinking in your minds. “Then why do you order on Swiggy and Zomato?” I try my best not to. Sometimes I need to. And...